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Saturday, 12 September, 2009

Shortly after attending a meeting between the Elders and leading women from politics, civil society, business, journalism and academia, Nadia Karayianni reflects on the vital role of women in fostering peace in Cyprus.

Being in a room with 30 empowered women who have worked and continue working for peace-building in Cyprus was so inspiring for me. The time was so little to accommodate all these comments about what we can do as women to support the leaders in their attempt to find a solution.

Lakhdar Brahimi and Gro Brundtland patiently and carefully listened to the voices of Cypriot women, and successfully brought them together with ideas on how to develop the current potential.

Everyone had a suggestion to make and when I noted them down, I concluded in more than 20 points. But most inspiring was the fact that all those women showed that they are willing to work hard to implement any of the suggestions made.

Someone said: "If it was women in the coordination of Ayios Mamas visit, it would have been a success!" And that reflects exactly the passion in that room to work for unifying our island.

Living in Cyprus and working for bi-communal cooperation the last three years, I felt that events like that are necessary to motivate citizens and remind them that they have a say in this negotiation, and that no decision is made without their involvement.

Women have shown their commitment in numerous events over the last few years, successfully organising a number of bi-communal events with a tremendous impact in society (hands across the divide, missing person relatives, etc.) - now is the time to link our strategies and emotions actively with policy making. We are ready to persuade decision makers to ensure women are empowered in peace building and in all the aspects of education, to request gender issues be included in the solution proposal and to promote the creation of a reconciliation committee.

A special invitation is sent to young women to actively engage in these initiatives, to express their feelings for their country and take the lead in designing the future of Cyprus.

Views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Elders or The Elders Foundation.

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